Most bible scholars who have aired there views concerning the prophesied destruction of Damascus have pointed to Israel as the destroyer. Syria has attacked Israel more than once in the past, and remains in a state of cold war with the Jewish state. So they view this as the inevitable outcome.
I have never been comfortable with this view. I don’t think Israelis could bring themselves to utterly destroy that entire city, and be responsible for such an enormous death toll.
But I do think those mentioned in the following article might…
by Michael T. Snyder
As you read this article, Turkish forces are massing along the border with Syria, and the largest “military exercises” in the history of the Middle East are being held in northern Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are publicly warning that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “will be removed by force” if a political solution cannot be found, and Turkey is claiming that it may have to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria “for humanitarian purposes.” Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Sunni allies have poured massive amounts of money and arms into the conflict in Syria, and now that their Sunni insurgents are on the verge of total defeat, they are trying to come up with a way to justify going in there and doing the job themselves.
The following comes from the London Independent:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be removed by force if the peace process fails, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has said.
“Bashar al-Assad will leave – have no doubt about it,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN. “He will either leave by a political process or he will be removed by force.”
Saudi Arabia has sent troops and fighter jets to a Turkish military base ahead of a possible ground invasion of Syria.
So precisely who will be doing the “removing” if force is necessary?
Are the Saudis ready to send in ground troops?
Apparently they are. Just consider what Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN.
Saudi Foreign Minister Jubeir made clear that his country’s troops would not go it alone.
“I can tell you that there is some serious discussion going on with regards to looking at a ground component in Syria, because there has to be a possibility of taking and holding ground, that one cannot do from the air.”
“We are saying we will participate within the U.S.-led coalition, should this coalition decide to send ground troops into Syria, that we are prepared to send special forces with those troops.”
But if the Saudis try to take Damascus and remove Assad by force, the Syrians and their allies will certainly fight back. That means that the Saudis will be fighting Hezbollah, the Iranians and the Russians.
Needless to say, Saudi Arabia is going to need a lot of help to do that.
So that may explain why Saudi Arabia has organized the largest “military exercise” in the history of the Middle East. CNN finally reported on this gigantic gathering of military forces in northern Saudi Arabia recently.
Saudi Arabia launched a massive military exercise that will include troops from 20 nations, state media reported Monday.
The drill, dubbed North Thunder, involves Arab and Muslim countries, according to the Saudi Press Agency. It’s taking place in King Khalid Military City in northeastern Saudi Arabia.
The news agency did not provide much information on what the exercise entails but called it “the largest in the region’s history.” The agency said it will involve air, sea and land forces.
This is the list of nations that are reportedly participating in these “exercises” so far:
-United Arab Emirates
As I discussed yesterday, 350,000 soldiers, 20,000 tanks, 2,450 warplanes and 460 military helicopters are reportedly gathering for these “military exercises.”
To me, that seems to be a great deal of overkill if the goal is just “training.”
Here is more about these “exercises” from RT:
The Saudi state agency made the announcement on Sunday, adding that participating troops will begin arriving in “the next few hours.”
The oil-rich nation described the exercises as “the largest and most important” military drills in the region’s history.
The so-called “Northern Thunder” exercise will take place in the north of the country and will include air, sea and land forces. SPA said that it will show that Riyadh and its allies “stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region.”
So are these forces massing for a ground invasion of Syria?
We shall see.
In the end, we probably won’t have to wait too long before we find out the answer.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials continue to assert that they may have to establish a “safe zone” for refugees in northern Syria. Since thousands of refugees are continually pouring their direction, they claim that they have no other choice but to go in and take control of the situation.
In fact, Turkey has already established several very large refugee camps on the Syrian side of the border.
Some 100,000 Syrian refugees are being looked after in camps inside Syria close to the Turkish border, including 35,000 who this month fled a Russian-backed regime offensive in northern Aleppo province, a top Turkish official said Friday.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, whose country has come under increasing pressure to open its border to people fleeing the violence, said the refugees were being accommodated in nine camps just across the border with Syria.
But make no mistake—this is not just about helping refugees.
The truth is that ISIS has been using Turkey as a home base for years, and hundreds of millions of dollars of ISIS oil has been shipped into Turkey, where it has then been sold to the rest of the world. Barack Obama knows about all of this, and yet he has refused to do anything to stop it.
At this point, the cooperation between ISIS and Turkey has become so obvious that even CNN is admitting that ISIS militants are being resupplied from Turkey.
To the east of Aleppo, Kurdish forces are, with American support, eyeing the remaining ISIS strongholds along the Turkish border — Jarablus and Manbij. The U.S. wants ISIS out, to remove its access to resupply of materiel and fighters from Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkey, America’s NATO ally that is engaged in a brutal but often unseen war with the Kurds’ allies in Turkey’s southeast, doesn’t want the Kurds to advance, and may stop at nothing to prevent that.
Fortunately, the Russian bombing campaign has pretty much put an end to the endless parade of ISIS oil trucks that were entering Turkey, and now the primary supply line to Sunni militants in the strategically important city of Aleppo is about to be cut off.
The corridor that runs through the city of Azaz is vitally important, and the prime minister of Turkey recently insisted that the Turkish government “will not allow Azaz to fall.”
Turkey shelled YPG positions for a third straight day on Monday to try to stop its fighters seizing Azaz, just 8 km from the border. Ankara fears the Kurdish militia, backed by Russia, is trying to secure the last stretch of around 100 km along the Syrian border not already under its control.
“We will not allow Azaz to fall,” Davutoglu told reporters on his plane on the way to Ukraine. “If they approach again they will see the harshest reaction,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Turkish government, it appears that Azaz is already slipping away from the militants. The following was reported by an Iranian news source:
Ankara is likely to take action to counter the Syrian military and allied groups on choking up a supply link on which militants relied to get weapons and logistics.
Syrian troops and Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters have retaken the town of Azaz, located to the northwest of Aleppo, prompting Saudi Arabia and Turkey to hint at deployment of ground forces to the region.
Asked if Ankara might act to reverse the gains, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (seen below) said on Friday, “Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer,” Turkish paper Hurriyet reported.
Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer?
That sounds rather ominous.
Like I said yesterday, I don’t think that I have ever seen a scenario which was more likely to lead to World War III than the one we are watching play out right now.
Do Saudi Arabia and Turkey actually expect to waltz into Syria and start taking territory without a response from the Syrians, Hezbollah, the Iranians and the Russians?
And if fighting does break out, how is the United States possibly going to stay out of it?
The truth is that Saudi Arabia and Turkey would never invade Syria in the first place without the express approval of the Obama administration.
The next couple of weeks are key. If we can get into early March without an invasion, by that time, Saudi Arabia and Turkey may have missed their window. The troops who are gathered for the massive military exercise in northern Saudi Arabia will start to go home, and by then, the Sunni militants remaining in Aleppo will probably be pretty much completely defeated.
But will Saudi Arabia and Turkey really be willing to walk away after pouring so much time, effort and money into the conflict in Syria? They had dreamed of turning Syria into a full-blown Sunni nation, and if they give up now, Syria will end up being dominated by Iran and Hezbollah. It will be a result that is far worse than if they never tried to overthrow Assad in the first place.
So my gut feeling is telling me that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their Sunni allies are not done in Syria. But their obsession with that country threatens to plunge us into World War III. If that happens, the consequences will be felt by every man, woman and child on the entire planet.
Michael T. Snyder is the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and author of The Beginning of the End.
Hassan Nasrallah Saturday, May 23, called his Lebanese Shiite Hizballah movement to the flag, because “we are faced with an existential crisis” from the rising belligerence of the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant.
His deputy, Sheik Naim Qssem, sounded even more desperate:
“The Middle East is at the risk of partition” in a war with no end in sight, he said. “Solutions for Syria are suspended. We must now see what happens in Iraq.”
The price Iran’s Lebanese proxy has paid for fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s army for four years is cruel: some 1,000 dead and many times that number of wounded. Its leaders now understood that their sacrifice was in vain. ISIS has brought the Syrian civil war to a new dead end.
This week, a 15-year old boy was eulogized by Hizballah’s leaders for performing his “jihadist duty” in Syria.
Clearly,for their last throw in Syria, the group, having run out of adult combatants, is calling up young boys to reinforce the 7,000 fighting there.
The Syrian president Bashar Assad is in no better shape. He too has run dangerously short of fresh fighting manpower. Even his own Alawite community has let him down. Scarcely one-tenth of the 1.8 million Alawites have remained in Syria. Their birthrate is low, and those who stayed behind are hiding their young sons to keep them from being sent to the front lines.
Assad also failed to enlist the Syrian Druze minority to fight for his regime, just as Hizballah’s Nasrallah was rebuffed when he sought to mobilize the Lebanese army to their cause. This has left Hizballah and the Syrian ruler alone in the battlefield with dwindling strength against two rival foes:
ISIS and the radical Syrian opposition coalition calling itself Jaish al-Fatah – the Army of Conquest – which is spearheaded by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and backed to topple Assad by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Nasrallah tried to paint a brave picture of full mobilization to expand the war to all parts of Syria. However, Sunday, May 24, a key adviser to Assad admitted that his regime and its allies were being forced to regroup.
Their forces were withdrawing from the effort to shift the Islamists from the land they have conquered – about three-quarters of Syrian territory – and concentrating on defending the cities, Damascus, Homs and Latakia, home to the bulk of the population, as well as the strategic Damascus highway to the coast and Beirut. Hizballah needed to build up the Lebanese border against hostile access.
But Syrian cities, the Lebanese border and the highway are still under threat – from Syrian rebel forces.
The Iraqi army, for its part, has been virtually wiped out, along with the many billions of dollars the US spent on training and weapons. There is no longer any military force in Iraq, whether Sunni or Shiite, able to take on ISIS and loosen its grip on the central and western regions.
The Kurdish peshmerga army, to whom President Barack refused to provide armaments for combating the Islamists, has run out of steam. An new offensive would expose the two main towns of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Republic – the capital Irbil and the oil city of Kirkuk – to the depredations of the Islamist belligerents.
A quick scan of Shiite resources reveals that in the space between the Jordan River and the Euphrates and Tigris, Iran commands the only force still intact in Iraq – namely, the Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militias, who are trained and armed by the Revolutionary Guards.
This last remaining fighting force faces its acid test in the battle ongoing to recover Baiji, Iraq’s main oil refinery town. For the first time, Iranian troops are fighting in Iraq, not just their surrogates, but in the Baiji campaign they have made little headway in three weeks of combat. All they have managed to do is break through to the 100 Iraqi troops stranded in the town, but ISIS fighting strength is still not dislodged from the refinery.
The Obama administration can no longer pretend that the pro-Iranian Shiite militias are the panacea for the ISIS peril. Like Assad, Tehran too is being forced to regroup. It is abandoning the effort to uproot the Islamists from central and western Iraq and mustering all its Shiite military assets, such as the Badr Brigade, to defend the Shiite south – the shrine towns of Najef and Karbala, Babil (ancient Babylon) and Qadisiya – as well as planting an obstacle in the path of the Islamists to Iraq’s biggest oil fields and only port of Basra.
The Shiite militias flown in by Tehran from Pakistan and Afghanistan have demonstrated in Syria and Iraq alike that they are neither capable nor willing to jump into any battlefields.
The upshot of this cursory scan is that not a single competent army capable of launching all-out war on ISIS is to be found in the Middle East heartland – in the space between the 1,000km long Jordan and the Euphrates and Tigris to the east, or between Ramadi and the Saudi capital of Riyadh to the south.
By Sunday, May 24, this perception had seeped through to the West. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, remarked: “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.” The former British army chief Lord Dannatt was more down to earth.
Since the coalition air force campaign had failed to stop ISIS’s advance, he said “it was time to think the previously unthinkable” and send 5,000 ground troops to fight the Islamists in Syria and Iraq.
The next day, Monday, Tehran pointed the finger of blame for the latest debacles in Iraq at Washington. Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani was quoted by the English language Revolutionary Guards mouthpiece Javan as commenting: “The US didn’t do a damn thing to stop the extremists’ advance on Ramadi.”
The Islamist enemies of Israel, whether Shiite or Sunni, all declare “Allahu Akbar” (our god is greater) when they make war. That claim of a greater god is in relation to the God of Israel – the one true God of the universe.
Just like in Biblical times. We once again see who is the greatest God, as he sets the enemies of Israel against each other.
by Pete Garcia
Given that the United States, or any semblance thereof, is not mentioned in Bible prophecy, one has to take into account the how, why, and ‘so what’ of that particular implication.
If the US is not here, who then fills that vacuum? Who sets the precedence for a global order? What is the reserve currency the whole world leans upon for stability in the global markets? Logic and history tells us, that if the US isn’t filling that role, someone will. How and when does the world get from the current status quo, to one in which it isn’t?
So it is with the outline of Bible prophecy, I am 100% certain. It’s when we get into the subsections of the outline that my certainty drops to between 60-75%. IOW, I’m certain on the order of things, not so certain on the specifics of how those things come to pass. Here is the order:
The imminent Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-55) The 70th Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27, particularly vs. 27; Jeremiah 30:7-11) The Second Coming (Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11-21) The Millennium (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 20) The Eternal State (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21-22)
Now, there are other events which must take place, to which I am 100% certain on their fulfillment, but not 100% on the when. These are:
The utter destruction of the city of Damascus (Isaiah 17) The temporary desolation of Egypt (Isaiah 19) The Gog-Magog War (Ezekiel 38-39) The signing of a peace covenant (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 6:1-2)
So where on God’s timeline are we, seems to be the reoccurring question that gets so often asked? So here is what we know as of now (December 2014):
The United States is in an increasingly rapid state of decline, particularly in three areas: spiritually, culturally, and economically
The economic decline appear to be intrinsically linked to the spiritual and cultural decline as the US embraces its national, post-Christian statu
The US economic decline is having a weakening effect on the US military, and our ability to project our force, and a strong image around the world
Paganism, secular humanism, and the normalization of aberrant sexual, cultural lifestyles and belief systems, appear to be filling the void of a declining Christian worldview (Days of Noah and Lot; Luke 17:25-30)
The revival of cultural paganism (Neopaganism) is in conjunction with trans-humanism, which is fast becoming a reality due to advancements in technology
The US Dollar is currently the world’s reserve currency for fiat systems. Factors that are negatively and positively impacting that standing are:
1.$18T in US debt (negative)
3.Rapid changes in currency technology challenging the current fiat system (both)
4.Instability in other currencies (positive)
5.Busts, booms, and general fickleness of the markets (both)
6.Increasing polarity in the US government (negative)
7.Economists and heads of state are currently planning for, and/or prepositioning themselves for the collapse of the US economy.
8.Global interconnectedness has reached an all-time high, and is partly due to the dependency on the US Dollar system, and the rise of the Internet age.
9.The EU is continuing in its growing pains. Economic woes and a rise in nationalism seem to be equally as troubling, as its burgeoning Muslim population. Either way, it’s not looking good like a good place to retire if you’re a Jew
Here is what I expect to occur due to the aforementioned realities:
10. The collapsing of the US Dollar (due to the global dependence on it for economic stability) presents the ‘perfect storm’ crisis that globalists need, in order to bring about a new order
11. Saudi Arabia will continue its oil output in order to:
– Weaken its enemies who rely on oil revenues – Destroy the US fracking industry
- Events are continuing to drive the world’s attention back to the Middle East in respects to Iraq, Iran, and Israel. Despite President Obama’s best efforts, events are compelling US forces to return to Iraq.
I think there are two powerful forces currently fighting it out on earth right now. One group wants things to stay the way they are, because they are making money and living fat and happy. This would be groups like the Saudi’s, major energy providers, and anyone tied up with and making a healthy living under the current Petro-Dollar/fiat system. They want things to stay the same and they use oil and other energies, as an economic weapon.
The other group, has grander plans, and sees the US Dollar dominance, as a hindrance to their globalist agenda. So they are actively working to debase the Dollar, and by so doing, can get the world onto a new, global, digital currency in which they control. I imagine that these are the movers and shakers in new technologies and multinational corporations, politicians of all stripes, those in the central banking industries, and the like. And seeing, as we are $18T in debt, one can guess which side is currently winning.
Then of course, there is God, who has the first and final say in all things. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
My best guess, all things considered, is that we are in a five year window awaiting major, radical, global realignments. If you’d have asked me that five years ago, I would have told you about the same…and yet, here we still are. But I’m no prophet. I’m only a man armed with an informed opinion. But unknown to us five years ago, was that certain things had to transpire that I think will make things significantly different in the days, weeks, months ahead. These ‘black swan’ events will have to play out in the next few years:
Israel is no longer interested or invested in playing the ‘two-state’ solution game. They’ve been trying this for the past 21 years, and it has utterly failed each time
Israel realizes it can no longer depend on the US for its ‘Iranian Problem’ and realizes that their window for stopping Iran’s ambitious, nuclear program is quickly coming to a close and even with the 2016 elections, that may be too late. Events are going to force Israel to act unilaterally
If Russia risked military incursions into Georgia, Ukraine and Crimea before their financial woes, imagine what President Putin will do when his country’s economy is in a freefall
The US is significantly weaker than it was during the last financial crisis of 2008. Echoes of 1928-29 keep being rehashed in the news, and it is possible that another stock market collapse will effectively do, what 2008 could not
President Obama has/is continuing to rule through executive legislation that seems intent on dividing and weakening the US
The upcoming 2016 elections may prove the most contentious yet, depending on whether President Obama and the Democrats intend to go quietly into the night, or have a few tricks left up their sleeve. They can’t be too thrilled at the prospect of a Republican triumvirate
The last 100 years has seen more transition, tragedy, and change than the rest of recorded history. Pagans insist on all things continuing on cyclically. But according to Scripture, there was a beginning, and there will also be an end. Logically speaking, if the United States is the lone economic and military superpower in the world, and we do not warrant a mention by either name or type in the pages of Holy Writ whenever that end may be, then that means that something happens to us that makes us a non-factor in the final outline of things to come.
And if the US isn’t taking the lead, than someone has too because nature abhors a vacuum. We know according to Scriptures, that someone comes out of a revived Roman Empire who ends up controlling the whole earth. (Daniel 2:40-44, 9:26-27; Revelation 13)
The Terminal Generation
The Holy Spirit moved Moses to contribute one psalm to the collection we have in our Old Testament. Moses, who lived to be 120 years old still vigorous in mind, sight and strength said this in Psalm 90:10;
The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
In context, Moses was speaking to the brevity and frailty of a man’s life. When answering the question the disciples put forth to Jesus about the last days, Jesus’s caps off the numerous indicators with the Parable of the Fig Tree. Yet, the point of the parable isn’t an attempt to define the length of a generation, but to pin that generation who sees the aforementioned signs (Matt. 24:3-28) to the length of the average man’s life.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Matthew 24:32-35
Is it coincidence that Israel is alluded to in numerous places in the Old Testament as figs, or as a fig tree? [Judges 9:7-15; Song of Solomon 2:13; Jeremiah 24; Hosea 9:10; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10; Luke 13:6-8; Mark 11:12-14] Is it coincidence that Jesus links the budding of a tree associated with national Israel, as being the one sign that some future generation would see and not pass away? Is it coincidence that Jesus states Jerusalem will be trampled on by Gentiles until the ‘age of the Gentiles’ has come to an end? Is it coincidence that the only Psalm Moses pens, happens to discuss the lifespan of a man being 70 to 80 years, when he himself lived to be 120? Is it coincidence that Jesus, being God, would know that we would come to these same conclusions some 2,000 years later, right about the time of all their fulfillments?
I do not believe in coincidence, and according to Scripture, God doesn’t either. God orchestrates kings and kingdoms to accomplish His will and in His time. (Dan. 2:27-45; Romans 13:1-3)
At the current rate, things cannot remain status quo. I don’t believe that all the signs and events listed above prove a Rapture. What I do believe is that they point to the signs of the coming seven year period of time commonly referred to as The Tribulation. I believe that due to the increasing geo-political and economic turmoil we are seeing in the world that we are exactly in the final moments (death throes) of the ‘times of the Gentiles’…hence the uptick in global turmoil. (Luke 21:24)
The final moments of the ‘times of the Gentiles’ has to coincide with Israel already being back in her land, which occurred in May of 1948. May is significant because that is when the early fruit (good fruit) first buds. Because the Jews had to have Israel back as a nation, before they could be attacked in the Six Day War, which resulted in them recapturing Jerusalem. The Jews have to be in control of Jerusalem again, in order to one day rebuild a future Jewish temple. (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4) All of that is colliding with the fact that they have been back as a nation going on 67 years. Coincidence?
The Bible is clear that we will not know the day or the hour of the Lord’s return. (Mark 13:32) But the Apostle Paul did say we would recognize the season. And just like one can know by looking at a calendar when roughly winter or summer should begin, we don’t know exactly until we start seeing and feeling the changes. I believe that over the last 100 years, we are increasingly seeing the signs and we can know with a 100% confidence that we are in the season of our Lord’s return.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thess. 5:1-6
There may be an inherent mistake in the question – “where is the USA in Bible prophecy?” It’s the presupposition that the USA meets the biblical criteria for a nation. It may not! It started life as a European colony. And as such, may share its prophetic future with the rest of Europe.
By Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Hamas is caught between the hammer of Sisi and the anvil of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. This is one of the main factors behind Hamas’ search for ways to go back to cooperating with the PLO.
When the revolt against Mubarak broke out towards the end of January 2011, it was expected that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) would gain control of Egypt. The Saudis did not hesitate to express their opposition to this possible outcome. In June 2012, when Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi became the President of Egypt, he tried to calm the Saudis, but to no avail, and they supported General Sisi when he deposed Morsi in July 2013.
Since Morsi’s fall from power, Saudi Arabia has granted Sisi billions of dollars to support him in preventing Morsi from returning to the presidential office. Saudi Arabia has also come out publicly against the position of the US which called for Sisi to reinstate Morsi.
Saudi opposition to the “Brothers” can be seen in its willingness to hand over members of the movement who escaped to Saudi Arabia after Morsi was deposed, when the Egyptian regime began to search out Muslim Brotherhood activists after defining the movement as a terrorist organization. The obvious question is why the Saudis hate the Muslim Brotherhood so much, even though both groups are devout Sunnis, and why it chooses to help the secular Sisi supporters.
This question becomes even more acute considering past relations between the Saudis and the “Brothers”. Once Saudi Arabia was a safe haven for many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled persecution in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.
There are several answers to this question that, together, form a synergetic whole.
- The name “al-Ikhwān” – “the Brothers” – was, at the start of the 20th century, the name of the militia of Ibn Saud, the founder of the Saudi Arabian dynasty. This was a cruel militia that sowed panic among the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, and ended the rule of Sherif Hussein Bin Ali, King of the Hejaz. When Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, he took the name of Ibn Saud’s militia and added the adjective “Muslim”, to emphasize that the Egyptian members of the organization were truly Muslim, as opposed to Ibn Saud’s army. Ibn Saud did not forgive this treachery to his dying day in 1953.
- Saudi Arabia is a tribal country, where religion makes the tribal cohesion even stronger, through laws, rules and tradition, whereas the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood believes that religion takes the place of tribal-family loyalties which should disappear from politics entirely. The Muslim Brotherhood’s policy allows it to enlist people from all sectors and turn members into a developing civilian society that is culturally self-sufficient, while the Saudi model depends on a closed family group which cannot absorb people from outside its framework.
- The organizational model of the “Brothers” allows them to expand their activities and influence to other countries, including those without a Muslim majority, such as Israel, Europe and the USA. In contrast, the family organizational model of the Saudis is limited to Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates, and its influence can only reach outside those countries by buying supporters and involving itself financially in efforts to spread Islam.
The fact that the “Brothers” can expand their influence and presence to new communities causes the Saudis and the Emirates to feel that they are losing the contest for supremacy.
- The Saudi approach to Islam is “Salafist”, which sanctifies the original, glorious past of Islam as a religion whose states are ruled by uncompromising religious tenets. The Saudis view the “Brothers” as a modern political movement that has transformed Islam into a pragmatic ideology willing to reach compromises with other prevalent civilian ideologies, even those that oppose Islam or do not hold its beliefs. The official positive attitude of the “Brothers’ to the Egyptian Copts, for example, infuriates the Saudis.
- The lslamic legal system prevalent in Egypt is the Hanfit system, whereas the one prevalent in Saudi Arabia is the fundamentalist and extreme version of the Hanbal system, known as Wahhabism. Since the Hanfit system is less stringent than Wahhabism, the “Brothers” are seen by the Saudis as lacking respect for Islam. Wahhabists, for example, force a woman to cover her face with a niqab when going outside in public, forbid her from going out without a male family member as escort, prevent her from driving and working in most professions. The Hanfists, on the other hand, allow a woman to go out by herself, uncover her face, drive and work in any respectable field. The Saudis have no religious expectations from the Egyptian military, but the irreverent attitude of the “Brothers” angers them.
- In Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there are quite a few people who are not connected to the tribal system and the ruling families, so that the “Brother’s” ideology is suited to their way of life and thinking. They would like to see the Saudi family ruling the country and the ruling families in the Emirates exchanged for a non-family-tribal cadre. The rise of the “Brothers” to the position of Egyptian President encouraged this trend and spread suspicion among the ruling families who fear that the “Brother’s” ideology may threaten the stability of their regimes. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the head of the Dubai police, said that the danger the “Brothers” pose to the Emirates is greater than that posed by Iran.
- During the twentieth century, an economic rift developed between Saudi Arabia and the Emirates on the one hand, and the poor populations of Egypt and other Arab countries, people who are the natural breeding ground for the “Brothers”. The stark contrast between the wealth of the Arabian Peninsula and the poverty, neglect, backwardness, diseases and ignorance in the other Arab lands created envy, hate, suspicion and intrigues between the two sides.
Evening papers in Arab countries portray the Saudis and leaders of the Emirates as grotesquely fat and round, an image not divorced from reality. Undoubtedly, the “Brothers'” popularity with the vast Arabic masses is much greater than that of the ruling House of Saudi, a situation which causes the Saudis much discomfort.
In a cartoon, a typical Palestinian Arab in Khan Yunis says to the Saudis: “You are all traitors” because of their silence on what is going on in Gaza. The artist? Omia Jucha, wife of one of the heads of Hamas, Rami Saad.
- The Peninsula countries have had a symbiotic relationship with the West for decades. They supply the West with oil and gas, while the West protects them from external threats, such as Russia, Arab nationalism of the Gamal Abdul Nasser kind and the undercover activities of the Baath regimes of Syria, Iraq and Iran. To the Muslim Brotherhood, the West is the main enemy of the Middle Eastern nations: the British conquest of Egypt in the last quarter of the 19th century, the British and French conquest of the Levant after WWI, the establishment of the State of Israel, materialism, theft of natural resources, political hegemony and permissiveness that pervade the western media and reach every home in the Middle east are viewed by the “Brothers” as a Western attack on Islamic culture, policies and economic interests. The contrast between Muslim Brotherhood’s attitude towards the United States and that of the Arabian Peninsula exacerbated the tension between the two sides.
- Jerusalem remains the central point in the conflict between the “Brothers” and Saudi Arabia, although this dispute is not waged in public and must be read between the lines. The “Brothers” made their views on Jerusalem clear on May 1, 2012, in a speech by MB leader Sheikh Safwat Hijazi to hundreds of thousands of supporters during Morsi’s presidential election campaign: “We have seen the dream of the Islamic Caliphate, the Land of the Caliphate, come to pass – if Allah so wishes – the group and its party. We have seen the great dream that we all dream of, the ‘United Arab Nations’. The ‘United Arab Nations’ will return, if Allah so wishes, by this man’s hand, with the help of his party. And the capital of the ‘United Arab Nations’ will be Jerusalem, if Allah so wishes (loud approval from the crowd). Our capital will not be Cairo, nor Mecca nor Medina, if Allah so wishes, and our slogan will be “Millions of shahids march on Jerusalem” (as the crowd fanatically shouts the slogan).
Another instance of Jerusalem’s centrality to the MB occurred in 2001 when the leader of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raad Salah, announced his intention of bringing water from the Zamzam well in Mecca to Jerusalem, in order to stress Jerusalem’s holiness and its connection to Mecca.
When the Saudis heard of his plan, they kept him from attending the Haj. They did not offer an explanation, but everyone knew why he was not allowed to reach Mecca.
In general, the Saudis hardly mention Jerusalem, and when they do, it is to say that it must be returned to the Palestinians. This keeps them from being seen as Zionists, but it seems as if they fear that if Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state, it will become the focus of Islamism rather than Mecca. The Palestinian Arab leader might call himself “Guardian of the Al Aksa Mosque”, a title that overshadows the Saudi king, who is “Guardian of two holy places.”
It is important to note that the rivalry between the Hijaz center of Islam with Mecca as its holy city and Medina its capital, and the political center in Greater Syria (Alsham) with Damascus as its capital and Jerusalem its holy city, broke out in the seventh century, almost 1400 years ago. That was when the first Umayyad Caliph, Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, moved the capital from Medina to Damascus.
Later on, in 682 C.E., he chose Jerusalem as an alternative for the Haj because of a revolt that broke out in Mecca, preventing Syrian pilgrims from attending the Haj. The great Islamic arbiter Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328), whose decisions are adhered to by the Saudi Wahhabists, lowered the level of Jerusalem’s importance and holiness to that of every other Islamic city, because he knew that its “holiness” was only the result of a political, ethnic and personal dispute. The rivalry between the two centers – the Hijaz Mecca and the Alsham Jerusalem continues to this day, and adds to the tension between the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt has Salafist groups which are growing and spreading; their Islamic practice and way of life is becoming similar to that of the Saudis. They oppose the “Brothers” and cooperate with Sisi and his security forces against the “Brothers”.
Thus, the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt and the Hamas, its cohort in Gaza, find themselves caught between the hammer of Sisi and his security forces and the anvil of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. This is one of the main factors behind Hamas’ search for ways to go back to cooperating with the PLO.
The abyss separating the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, except for Qatar, and the “Muslim Brotherhood” is wide and deep, and the developments of the past three years in the Middle East have only served to make it wider and deeper.